Give Me Shelter

Goose, my 6-year-old daughter, was recently discussing her plans for when she grows up.  “I want to be a mommy when I get bigger, but I don’t want to grow a baby in my belly.  I’m going to get one from the shelter.”

For those who don’t know, I work in a veterinary hospital (12 years and counting), and before that, I was a volunteer for a greyhound rescue.  All of our dogs and cats have been rescues of one sort or another.  Discussions about homeless animals and responsible pet ownership are common in this household.

Me:  You’re going to get a baby from the shelter?

Goose:  Yes, I want to be mommy to a baby that doesn’t have a mommy.  Maybe one that’s zero years old, but maybe one that’s bigger because it’s harder for older kids to get families.

Me: That’s true, Goose.  And I think that’s a wonderful idea.  But children who need homes live in a place called an orphanage or a foster home.  The shelter is where dogs and other pets go. When you add a child to your family that way, that’s called adoption.

Goose:  Just like when we adopted Frances (the dog)?

Me:  Something like that.

Goose:  How will I find the orphanage or foster home, mom?

Me:  You’ll find the way.  Your heart will lead you.

Goose: Yeah, I have a big heart.

Yes, you do.

 

 

Life Experience

Image by Neil Fifer  (WikiMedia Commons)Buddy (age 6) is ever inquisitive.   I try my best to answer every inquiry as factually as possible, so when he asked, “Mom, why do old people get wrinkles?”  I went on about skin elasticity and muscle tone, and some other stuff that sounded about right (with a disclaimer that I was not super knowledgeable in that area and if he’d like more detailed information, I would help him look it up when we got home.)  He said that my explanation made sense.

The conversation among the three kids turned to the various adults that they know and how many wrinkles each person had.  There was intense discussion about each person’s age and if it seemed to relate to the amount of wrinkles they can see… It didn’t.    I explained that lifestyle, diet and family history can have an impact on how your skin looks as you get older.

This led to an analysis among the children about the health of various relatives (sorry, family!): grandma doesn’t make good food choices, auntie gets lots of exercise, and so on.

This, in turn, led to an analysis of my own wrinkles.  Bear tells me to smile, and I do.  He points to the lines around my mouth.  Laugh lines, I tell him, because you bring me so much happiness.  Then, he zeroed in on the “little wrinkles by your eyes when you squint.”

They’re called “crow’s feet”, Bear.  They mean that mommy has lots of life experience.

Bear, without hesitation, laughs, “Life ‘sperience means old!”

Strong Girls

The Littles watched Mulan for the first time recently.  I admit that I wasn’t really paying attention.  I was folding laundry, putting away dishes and the like, when Buddy asks a simple question:

Mom, why do the people think that girls aren’t strong enough to fight?  Girls are just as strong as boys are.

I sigh.  Of course, that’s the point of the movie and he’ll see that by the end, and believe me, I am so very happy that he recognizes the bias, but how to answer his question?  I had just watched this video (I’m a confessed Upworthy addict.) and had women, education and literacy on my mind.

So I explained, in the simplest terms I could manage, that there are parts of the world where girls aren’t considered as important as boys (and some people here in our own corner of the globe would agree).  In some places, girls aren’t allowed to go to school. Girls aren’t taught to read.  And while it’s better than it was in the past, like in the movie, there is still along way to go.

I thought again about that video, and how all of my children, even the 4-year-old, would have been able to help that woman get to the right place.  I feel fortunate.  I told the kids a very boiled down version of the story: there was a woman who didn’t get to go to school because she is a girl.  She didn’t learn to read.  She took her mother to a hospital and they couldn’t find the doctor so they had to go home.  Now she teaches other girls to read.

They ask why someone else in the hospital didn’t help her find the way.  I tell them: maybe everyone else was too busy, maybe she was embarrassed to ask.  I don’t know.

They looked perplexed, and why wouldn’t they?  An adult that can’t read is just as strange a concept to them as girls being less important, or less strong than boys.   After a moment, Buddy speaks…

I bet boys made up that rule.  Mean boys.

Peace and Love

Peace on EarthThe day after Christmas, I took the kids to a local diner for breakfast.  As we were wrapping up, I told them that I wanted to go to Target to pick up a few things for myself.

Mommy wants to get herself a couple of things for Christmas.

Buddy:  But mom, you got what you wanted most already!

I did?

Buddy: Yes, you got yourself some pieces.

Some what?

Buddy: Some peace? Peace.  You got yourself some peace.

Oh! Peace?

Buddy: Yes! And love, too!

I did?

Buddy: Yes! We are very peaceful when we play with our Kindles and we sure do love that you got them for us. That’s peace and love.

So it is, Buddy.  So it is.

And the Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth

These are cool specs.It is winter break.  My kids are enjoying their time off by brawling and screaming a lot.  Much of the day, I can barely hear myself think.  But in the quieter moments (It’s all relative), when I have the time and presence of mind to listen, these are the conversations that find the space to grow.

Buddy (6yo): Mom, (pause) why do people call kids with glasses “nerds”?

Me (Rehearsing an answer in my head, while recounting all the times he’s refused to wear his glasses recently): Because you’re smarter than they are and it’s intimidating, or more probably, their parents find smart people intimidating and taught their children to do the same.

No, no, no…. Don’t be part of the problem.  Try again.

Me (out loud): Because people poke fun at what they don’t understand, and it seems they don’t understand that your eyes are a little different and need glasses to help them see better. Did someone call you a nerd?

Buddy: Yeah… one of my best friends, and a couple other people.

Me (annoyed): “Nerd” is what people sometimes call smart people with or without glasses.

He nods, looking pensive, and there’s a pause… the pause that suggests this momma is stewing… I take a deep breath and begin…

Me (highly animated, picture enthusiastic hand gestures and a slight head waggle):  You know who’s a nerd, Buddy?  Do you?  Your momma is a nerd.  And you know what else? Your daddy is a nerd, too.

Buddy: Really? (pause, slow grin starting to form on his face)

Me: It’s true, you come from a nerd family.  And I’ll tell you something else… Nerds run the world.

Buddy: I didn’t know that. (more relaxed but still not sure he believes me)

The conversation turns to other random topics.  I don’t remember what they were.  Then, at the next lull in conversation, Buddy, who is completely obsessed with Minecraft, asks if people can really build islands “in real life.”

I immediately think of the Palm Islands in Dubai, and I answer, “Yes, they sure can.”

Buddy: Really?  How do they do that?

Me: Some nerds got together and figured out how to do it. So the next time someone calls you a “nerd”, you look that person straight in the eye and say, “Thank you!”

Buddy: And they won’t know what that really means… But I do!

And that’s when the biggest dimpled grin spread across his beautiful bespectacled face.

The Sir Axelrod Revelation

Have you ever watched a movie so many times that you could recite it almost word for word?  Have your kids ever watched a movie so many times that you know every word even though you don’t remember specifically ever sitting down to properly watch it?  It’s absorbed by some sort of osmosis as you come in and out of the room doing various chores and tasks. (Don’t start with the “I never use the TV as a babysitter” nonsense… I call bullsh*t.  Sometimes it’s the only way dinner gets on the table.)

Certainly, if the kids have watched it that many times, they must know all the words and every detail of the plot, too, right?  I would think so.  But it seems that all of this time, I’ve given my children’s observational skills too much credit.

(Spoilers follow, so if you’re one if the 15 people who haven’t yet seen Cars 2, you may wish to avert your gaze.)

It was on the way home from a recent trip, during the 150th viewing of Cars 2 that Buddy screamed from the back of the Swagger Wagon:

Wait! Sir Axelrod put the bomb on Mater?!?! That’s crazy!!

Escape to Poo Mountain… Or Happy Earth Day…

Or… Why I should probably supervise my children better.

(Off topic: Who else loved Escape to Witch Mountain as a kid?)

I’m writing more these days, which means more computer time, which means my kids must fend for themselves.

GO. OUTSIDE. NOW… and stay there.

Generally, I sit on the deck and supervise them closely (**muffled laughter**), but today it is cool enough, and my laptop battery is low enough, that deck-sitting wasn’t an option.  Out they went.  And wouldn’t you know?  Miracles do happen and they played outside nicely.  No fighting.  No coming inside every 5 minutes.  No mischief.  No mischief?

They come inside and merrily tell me that they built a fly hotel called FlyTel because it’s Earth Day and “We even built Poo Mountain!”

Me:  Huh, cool. (Totally not paying attention… wait for it… wait for it)  Wait.  What?  You what?

Buddy: We built Poo Mountain from dog poo for our FlyTel so the flies can eat!

Me:  Built it with what?  With what did you touch poo?

Goose:  Gloves!

Bear: (grinning ear to ear) Uh huh! Wif gloves!

Me:  Please place all gloves in the laundry basket, then proceed directly to the bathroom to wash your hands.

**Smiling Earth-friendly children head toward bathroom**

Me: (yelling after them) WITH SOAP!! Wash your hands with SOAP!

**Grumbling children wash their hands with soap**

Me:  Now, let’s have a look-see at your FlyTel.

My children proudly delivered me outside to see this awesomeness:

FlyTel

To book your reservation, call today!

I love that they were thoughtful enough to include provisions for the flies’ education… I bet this wasn’t on your list of kid friendly Earth Day activities.